Reposting a twitter thread from last year for remembrance day. Still holds true.
Remembrance Day. (1) walk with me… The picture of Macron and Merkel made me well up. I grew up in Germany, and at every family reunion, the second toast (after the one to the person/occasion) was always to “l’amitie franco-allemande”. To the French-German friendship.That stayed
1:13 PM · Nov 11, 2018
(2) stories of what it takes to make reconciliation happen. Learning each other’s languages. School exchanges. Exchanges between farmers, students, business people. Living under somebody’s roof, sharing food. Talking about hurt, wrong and things that connect(still sharing food).
(3) my family has a distillery, making fruit schnappses in Germany. One was always “Mirabelle de Lorraine” Brought from my auntie’s Dad with his tractor. The old men sat in the distillery and had a grand old time. Once the schnapps was ready, so had everyone else.
(4) he always shared buried all his good liquor in the garden when the Germans came. When my auntie Genevieve married uncle Franz, he brought out one of the bottles. Allegedly finishing the story with a big smile shouting “and now the %$£ Germans ARE drinking it” dispensing hugs.
(5) I was raised on these stories. (and some of the Mirabelle…) And, music teacher father of playing the Ode to Joy at full blast whenever something towards greater freedom, love, peace, democracy happened. 1989 onwards he played it a lot (remember? The hope? The love?)
(6) I hated growing up German, with that unbearable guilt, the full weight of history. I and did everything I possibly could to become as international as possible, studied history, politics, social sciences, postgrad in peace and conflict resolution studies for the Never Again.
(7) My grandfather was born in 1898 (that’s not a typo). He fought in WW1. He didn’t like war. He came home. His brothers didn’t. He was as internationally minded as a baker’s apprentice turned farmer could get with a few years of primary school education.
(8) I am sad I was too late to be able to have political historical conversations with him. I would have loved that. I imagine he would have loved seeing me do what I do. His body lived till 97, sadly, his mind left quite a bit earlier.
(9) Wherever he is now, I hope he sees the good bits that have happened in Europe. “Not letting the Nazis win” a key theme. And the news sometimes not looking all that encouraging. It would have broken his heart. It breaks mine.
(10) I now live in London. This month, people sell poppies for remembrance in front of every tube station. I am always a bit conflicted if I should buy one or not. If it is weirder to participate or not to participate. This one is on my laptop bag.
(11) I felt too embarrassed to have my accent heard so I bought it in silence. Brexit Britain is a weird place. It would have hurt Granddad as it hurts me. Some things can’t be solved with a bottle of Mirabelle. And often, the conversations aren’t going so well either.
(12) what got me into what I do now (leadership development, coaching, working with values) was a mix of the German army (thank you!) (training me to be a warzone correspondent), and a UK/Italian NGO
@wysengo where I did a leadership program. (thank you!)
(13) I am not cut out for living in a war zone. Few humans are, actually. That is not how we are meant to live. It’s a disgrace. We should be better than that by now. And, apparently, aren’t.
(14) The older I get,the more I realize, peace is a verb. A “doing-word”, as we say in German. It is fragile. It is iterative. It can crumble and needs rebuilding. It is work on the outside and quite a lot of work on the inside. You trust, you get your heart broken. You try again
(15) Nobody is in this alone. We are all a lot more connected than we think we are. We can remember together, be grateful for the work of those who came before us, and share their stories. And maybe share a Mirabelle and a hug. And then go back out into the rain to keep fixing…
(16) thank you for walking. And thank you to these two for the gesture that means so so much.